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Search for new zebra boss slow, steady



The latest news in the search for the next vice president of NFL officiating is that there is no news. But, a new timetable is now emerging in the process of appointing the successor to Mike Pereira, who announced his retirement last January.

Originally, Pereira was going to be shadowed by his eventual replacement in the 2009 season. We ruled out any active officials at the beginning of the season for that reason, until it was reported that the search was starting anew. But as CBS Sports is reporting, the goal is to get someone in place by February 2010.

In Clark Judge’s article, a league source said that the league will open the search to 15 to 20 participants. This does include active and inactive officials.

Interestingly (for reasons we will point out soon), there were five candidates considered in the offseason, which were winnowed down to three. A consensus could not be reached, however, on a successor, which necessitated a reboot in the replacement search. We can only speculate who was in that pool of five, but we have noticed that is the same number as Pereira’s direct reports: five former officials who all carry the title “supervisor of officials,” and presumably all candidates for successorship. They are:

  • Johnny Grier, a long-time former head referee, who moved off the field in 2004.
  • Neely Dunn, a former side judge, who moved to the league office in 2001, the same year as Pereira. (He suited up for one more game in 2001 due to a contractural lockout of officials.)
  • Ed Coukart, an umpire until the 2005 season.
  • Gary Slaughter, a headlinesman whose last game was Super Bowl XLII.
  • Bill Vinovich, a former head referee, who moved first to replay work in 2007, presumably due to an undisclosed illness.

It seems, in order to include current officials in the selection pool, the league office will have to take advantage of bye weeks. As we noted before, the new vice president of officiating has to have solid presentation skills, as the position has become much more visible to the public under Pereira’s reign.

Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)

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